March 31, 2010

Race the major issue during Mayor Dickert's first 'Community Conversation' (with video)

About 60 people attended Mayor John Dickert's first "Community Conversation" Wednesday night at the Tyler-Domer Community Center.

Dickert seemed a little disappointed in the turnout, saying at one point that he'd hoped to attract between 200 and 300 people. The crowd was largely filled with familiar faces in the city's political scene. Several city officials, aldermen and community organization representatives were in attendance.

Circuit Court Judge candidate Georgia Herrera was there and received a nice acknowledgement from a Hispanic member of the audience. Racine Unified Superintendent James Shaw also attended the meeting. Neither Herrera or Shaw spoke publicly.

The 90-minute meeting included several displays by community organizations, a presentation by Dickert and then questions from the audience. The mayor initially took submitted questions, which included questions about city spending, the city's community center and extending I-794 into Racine County.

Dickert used the questions to talk broadly about how the city evaluates programs and its spending decisions and the need for the community to work together to solve problems.

"We're either going to get better or continue on the path we're on, which, in my opinion, is unacceptable," Dickert said.

On the 794 question, Dickert said he favored a regional transit system over continually expanding roads the bypass the city. He noted right now there's no public transportation to get city residents to 200 jobs Bucyrus is adding in Oak Creek. Meanwhile, the state is spending a billion dollars to add lanes to I-94, which will have little impact on creating jobs in Racine.

The forum turned a little confrontational when the mayor opened up the floor to questions. Five speakers addressed Dickert on race. Three people said the city needs to do a better job of listening to and working with minorities.

Alphonso Gardner brought the most pointed attack against the mayor, saying the city wanted to give land away to a white business owner with a criminal record, but refused to allow an African-American businessman with no criminal record the opportunity to buy land to develop.

Gardner's accusations involve Jeremy Bloom, the owner of Treasures Media, and Brent Oglesby, who wanted to build a mixed-use development on State Street near the proposed KRM commuter rail station.

Dickert responded with a strong defense of Bloom, saying he had atoned for the mistakes in his past. The mayor noted Bloom hires ex-criminals to work at his growing business, and that the only reason he couldn't build a new plant in the Southside Industrial Park is because he expanded too quickly.

Oglesby, meanwhile, wanted to buy land near the transit station that wasn't for sale, Dickert said.

Jameel Ghuari, who is running for the City Council, followed up Gardner's question by asking about city claims there was a moratorium on the property. Dickert said four other developers had asked to buy the land, and the city told them no.

Maria Morales asked the mayor to create a safe place for local Hispanics to approach Racine police when they're in trouble. The mayor said it was a good idea.

Dickert will hold a similar meeting from 5:30-7 p.m. on Thursday, April 8, at the MLK Community Center.

Here's some video from the forum:


  1. You, Mayor Dickert, are a liar. You and your racist ways must depart Racine immediately. Defending a convicted skinhead of his violent crimes against blacks, you make me sick.

  2. Sounds like 90 minutes of your life that you'll never get back Dustin.

    Did Mike Shields attend this meeting? After all of his press releases as President of the NAACP, I would expect him to embrace the opportunity to address issues in public.

  3. I submitted a question about Dickert's missing 10 year plan, but he must have lost the paper with my question on it.

  4. So in other words, Dickert controlled the questions and hand picked what he wanted to talk about. Yeah, that's a real community conversation right there.

  5. Dickert is a joke....Is this really the type of leadership we should expect? Meanwhile the unemployment in Racine rose again! It's time we get some leadership we can believe in, we all got suckered buy this guy. Since he has takin office Racine has fallen to an all time LOW! We've seen Dickert's politics in action and Racine deserves much better! This is an embarressement!

  6. Dickert takes office-unemployment is Racine DOUBLES! Jobs are givin to friends and family....These type of politics sickin me!

  7. The attendance numbers just go to show you that the minority community in general doesn't have an issue with the mayor. It is three or four people that want attention for themselves.

  8. Where is Sheelds jobs plan?

  9. Shields is not the mayor moron...

  10. Mike Shields is the President of the NAACP. If he doesn't have a plan to move the minority community forward then there is no hope.

    What, are the leaders in town just supposed to guess? Make something up on their own? Should white people get together in a room and come up with plans to lift up all minorities and start lecturing them on how to live? Are minorities incapable of coming up with a jobs plan that addresses needs in there community?

    Where is the leadership from President Shields? If he spent as much time coming up with ideas as he does writing press releases then we'd all be in better shape.

  11. Shields can't do anything when the mayor decides to "gavel him down" for questioning the mayor's supreme authority. There is a pattern of resistance against minorities from this mayor. He feeds his pals jobs while he feeds minorities bowls of crap. He should be removed today.

    Three things before I go:
    1) I am white.
    2) Shields isn't the mayor with the mysterious ten year plan. Stop changing the subject.
    3) Dickert is defending a NAZI. How much worse can it get?

  12. It could get a lot worse if SCJ cons us into re-electing its pet pretty boy (Mayor Slick-Hair) next year. Seriously, Da Mire is just a bought-and-paid-for flunkey of the real enemies of Racine's rank-and-file residents, the Waxtrash.

  13. Gardner is a rqacist. And he doesnt live in the city. Why doesnt he go to the Mt. Pleasant Village Board and advocate for parts of Mt. Pleasant that are in the hood.

  14. Dustin,

    Were there any positive takeaways or action items from the meeting? I read the article and I get the impression that there wasn't much constructive that resulted. Did the mayor say he was going to follow up on anything?

    It just feels like, ok - so now what?

  15. (1).
    "Circuit Court Judge candidate Georgia Herrera was there and received a nice acknowledgement from a Hispanic member of the audience."

    -This is quite shocking!! Lol

    "Maria Morales asked the mayor to create a safe place for local Hispanics to approach Racine police when they're in trouble. The mayor said it was a good idea."

    -Special privileges for certain races is a good idea Mr.Mayor?? Seriously??

    Isn't this is what C.O.P. houses can be used for??

  16. Tim the Shrubber4/01/2010 7:53 AM

    "Maria Morales asked the mayor to create a safe place for local Hispanics to approach Racine police when they're in trouble."

    Hmmmmm...Hispanics? Why can Hispanics not use the same 'safe place' as everyone else. Ah, yes, because we are not actually talking about Hispanics, we are talking about people of dubious immigration status.

    I am disappointed if Ms. Morales did indeed use the term 'Hispanic'. Using it when actually talking about illegal immigrants just perpetuates the stereotype that all/most Hispanics are illegal aliens.

  17. Tim the Shrubber4/01/2010 7:55 AM

    "Where is Sheelds jobs plan?"

    I know...I was waiting for that too. We we promised that nearly a month ago.

  18. Dickert is a supreme failure. For those that support Dickert, please tell me why this guy should be mayor and just what the hell has been done since he's been in office? This guy is a complete joke!

  19. This was nothing more than a circle jerk with all the usual suspects. That is all these things ever are. The same when Becker was in. The Mayor goes to a meeting, the audience is other elected officials and activists, and they are there to watch still more elected officials and activists spar with the Mayor over bullshit. What a waste of time and money!

    The Mayor and Racine will really start moving forward when he stops letting Shields and the idiot internet commenters drive the agenda.

    "Why doesnt he (Gardner) go to the Mt. Pleasant Village Board and advocate for parts of Mt. Pleasant that are in the hood."


  20. 8:26

    You called it right just the same group of insiders talking to other insiders.

    Thinking of the story the Emperor has no cloths.

  21. It shouldn't take listening sessions to know that the biggest issues in all of Racine County are jobs, taxes, government spending, government debt and the need to push job creating development. Racine and Mt Pleasant push tax benefits towards developers that end up creating only a few jobs once the project is done. The elected officials have to stop thinking a few months of construction jobs is real job creation.

    Next Tuesday is election day. Send a message to the current elected officials that don't listen. If the current official isn't addressing the items I listed above then vote for new people who at least say they will try to change things.

    Voting out the old skunks will have more impact that listening sessions. Then do it again in November.

    In Mt Pleasant it is easy. There are the developer candidates and then there are the people's candidates. In Racine it will be harder to figure out and fewer options this round.

  22. Where the hell is the 10 year plan? Nobody asked that question????

  23. Reason no one showed up is because they are not voting for this idiot every again and they don't care what lies, BS he has to say

  24. It seems to me that the wrong people were at this "minority" session. I think when you add up the numbers, based on what's left in this city, the blacks and Hispanics far outnumber the whites.

  25. Michael Weston4/01/2010 9:37 AM

    Alright..this comment is for the idiots, morons and liars on this blog. I will correct many of the comments made here.

    I am not associated with Dickert but when you purposly liw about our mayor you make our city look bad.

    Anon 10:28; Dickert talked about Diversity, if you want to talk about what you want hold a meeting.

    Anon 10:44; Unemployment rose in all five major metro areas in the state.

    Anon 10:47 When Dickert was elected it was 16% it is now 16.8 percent (the last time I looked) how is that doubling? Actually, Racine is doing better than other metro areas in the state. When can Dickert get a campaign donation from you?

    A meeting meant to open up dialogue was overrun by self-serving neophytes.

    When you speak of the gentleman who is working to bring to this community as a Nazi. He says he has changed and is a christian. If you are a christian you give him a chance. Guess you are not a christian then.

  26. Michael Weston

    How much is Dickert paying you?

  27. Not a penny. How much is Shields paying you?

  28. Why are we still calling people minorities? We need to just help those who need it, regardless of gender, skin color or handicap. I for one stay away from those meetings because it is a separation meeting. He might have had better turn out if he called it improve your district or neighborhood.

    What is the deal with this same question asked at all the forums. Why are the Hispanic representatives pushing for some sort of special place to report? What is wrong with the station or COP houses like the rest of us use? I am missing something? If they are illegals, let them set it up and have a legal friend call in all the situations.

  29. Bring in jobs, and stop figuring out ways to fine and ticket us for living here. The latest parking restriction was moronic. We need other sources of revenue.

  30. I give the Mayor credit for scheduling the meeting, he knew Oliver and Gardner were going to be there to publicly confront him. He gave them their chance to make their case and it was largely selfish "puffery" as they might say.

    Gardner rails about the city without disclosing he isn't actually a resident of the city. Of course he was picked to talk about the Treasures owner because Oliver is a convicted felon-even for these guys that would be too hypocritical. Shields sat on the side letting others do the dirty work.

    Gardner also called Dickert an MF'er after the meeting concluded. Klassy.

    Dickert missed a major opportunity however and that's a shame. The city has great programs that people don't know about that help a lot of people. Instead of rattling them off like a laundry list he should have said "we do a,b,c and d to help the people of the city" and looked these guys straight in the eye and said "what do you do?"

  31. This meeting was a joke based on the attendance. If these community people really care, they would have attended the meeting. Next week they'll complain there is no communication between City Hall and minority groups. If you can't make your way to an open forum meeting - then keep your mouth shut and quite whining.

  32. Puffery, yes we can't forget about puffery!

  33. I didn't really hear many "take-aways" from the meeting. What I did hear was the Mayor trying to get word out about the different ideas and programs he's working on (ie. the Hispanic Community Center).

    I wouldn't call the meeting "puffery." Dickert stood up in front of the crowd and answered the questions put to him.

    One telling moment, I thought, was when Dickert noted he'd been in office 10 1/2 months and realized he couldn't make major changes on his own. That's a sign he's adjusting to the job. At first, every newly elected official thinks they're going to change the world, and then they get socked with the reality of many complex, difficult issues that no one, anywhere, has an easy answer for.

    Looking ahead to next April (this was basically a campaign event), Dickert's one major accomplishment in office was holding the city budget basically flat this year. Unfortunately for his re-election chances, his lack of a 10-year plan during his first 10 months in office will hurt him at the polls.

  34. And the Crony thing. Putting his pals in jobs was not a good idea.

  35. 1:19 - get with the program, what he may or may not have done has nothing to do with this story.

  36. First of all "Dick", use a correct name from the movie "Boogie Nights" it was Dirk.

    So in your comments, none of you wanted to be mayor. Did not Robert Turner run so a minority did run for mayor. (and lost) So your statement is not valid.

    So in your humble / meaningless opinion, it is his job to fix things. Maybe part of fixing things is to get rid of the hateful element that surrounds Racine (and a part of Racine you represent quite well)

    May I inform of some basic political facts. The mayor alone cannot fix things, he or she works with a city council. If you have not noticed those people are not the easist or work with.

    Do your homework, something I doubt you did in school. Please keep the drone name calling down. I can prove what I think...can you?

  37. This is the same sh#t that got us here! Stop the bickering, the whinning, the name calling and lets work together to make Racine what it should be not what it is turning into. Don't get me wrong if Dickert was to be removed from office today I wouldn't lose any sleep.

  38. It's not an issue that the Mayor puts crones in City jobs?
    Its not an issue that the Mayor is trying to have a Dickert propaganda machine?

  39. Great Dog and Pony show!

  40. Great Dog and Poney show that will be repeated in one week in Kaplan district.

  41. Weston = failure

  42. Hey Michael - how would you or the Mayor know how hard it is to work with the city council? He would have to try working with them in order to find out and he has yet to do so.

  43. The good thing, April 2011 is only one year away. I remember what happened when Jim Smith ran for another term, it wasn't even close. Same result coming next year.

  44. Why is the mayor's man secretary posting on city time? Can I get a reimbursement on my property taxes in December?

  45. anon 10:15 is a failure. Did you get your check on the first?

    Anon 10:33 How do you know he hasn't?

    Since I am not the secretary, no. However, I can bill you for my tutoring session.

  46. LOL...all the names that were mentioned, so many struggling for their moment in the spotlight, and then I notice that one of the community's strongest leaders stands quietly in the background without a hint of arrogance or need for attention.

    A person can speak loudly all they wish, but it is action, often taken quietly and without fanfare, that will change this city.

  47. Anon 11:44

    I would guess you are talking about Mr Mason, of course Mr Racine was waiting in the bullpen as well.

  48. Not at all..I'm talking about the wise pastor quietly listening in the background.

  49. Fire Brian O'Connell!!

  50. 9:52 It may not be Kaplan's District after tomorrow. Sherry Lawson has a really good shot at this. The children in the 4th district know her and love her and don't the parents. For change to happen People Need To Vote 4/6/10